Over the last 2 years, organizations have reconfigured work to meet the changing needs of desk-based workers. Unfortunately, these organizations haven’t given the same attention to frontline workers, who are now looking for new job opportunities as a result.
Frontline employees today want more than just a paycheck; they want a less stressful day-to-day experience, as well as a long-term path for career growth. Organizations that fail to meet these expectations are at risk for increased turnover. To keep frontline workers satisfied and happy at work, organizations need to invest in improving their workplace experience and provide opportunities for upward mobility.
The Expectations of Today’s Frontline Worker
Frontline workers are employees in essential industries that must work in person. These workers have a completely different tool set than desk-based workers, even within the same organization. For example, a desk-based worker may use an online platform to request shifts and time off. The process is simple. But a frontline worker may have to call or text his or her manager, who then has to call other employees one by one to see if one of them can cover the employee’s shift.
These fragmented communication channels can lead to miscommunications, something 81% of employees say occurs at least occasionally in their workplace. Employees on the front line can’t rely on phone calls or e-mail to communicate as quickly as they need to, which is why many frontline workers turn to messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger on the job. The communication issue then affects other teams, including the fact that IT is unable to monitor much of this communication, which can lead to the exposure of sensitive company information.
Another reason so many frontline workers are leaving is a lack of training and development opportunities. Tying back to communication, many employees never receive proper training during onboarding and are left to learn on the job. And when they have a question, insufficient communication channels can leave them feeling isolated from the rest of the organization.
Ultimately, higher expectations have left many frontline workers ready for change. The silver lining for employers is that there is an opportunity to stand out from competitors by improving some of these unsustainable practices. Investments in workplace technology can help streamline the day-to-day experience for frontline workers and help organizations maintain productivity with fewer available employees—in other words, working smarter with less.
How a Digital Frontline Workplace Enables a Better Employee Experience
Investing in a digital frontline workplace is an important step toward improving frontline worker experience. This type of tool can create a healthier environment for frontline workers while helping organizations run more smoothly, including boosting productivity. Here are three ways a complete frontline digital workplace can give your frontline workers a better employee experience:
1. Streamlined communication: Employees can’t achieve their full potential without effective communication. This is especially true for frontline workers in retail, restaurants, health care, and manufacturing—environments that are stressful enough without having to factor in inefficient modes of communication.
A digital frontline workplace can alleviate some of this stress by centralizing communication. Employers can either send out a message to their entire organization or filter by location, position, or department to tailor messages to the employees who need to see them. This feature reduces the amount of time employees spend figuring out who they should reach out to while ensuring that even their deskless teams stay in the loop.
Centralized communication also helps your employees feel a sense of belonging, which translates to a 50% reduction in turnover risk. Many frontline workers aren’t satisfied with just a paycheck; they want to feel connected to their coworkers, as well. This sense of belonging is harder to cultivate in a hybrid environment, so your organization must be intentional about connecting employees who work from different locations.
2. Flexible scheduling: Streamlined communication enables employees to set their own schedules without unnecessary friction. Using a digital frontline workplace, your employees can request and trade shifts with other employees as needed. This flexibility frees up resources for managers, who no longer have to spend time searching for a replacement when an employee needs to change shifts.
A digital frontline workplace also empowers employees to pick up shifts at neighboring locations depending on their lifestyle and immediate needs. For example, if an employee works at a restaurant and wants to pick up a shift at another location, the worker can access training resources on his or her phone to get up to speed and qualify for the shift. In turn, this gives frontline workers the opportunity to both upskill and make more money.
3. Opportunities for upward mobility: Beyond short-term training resources, a digital frontline workplace enables organizations to invest in their frontline workers’ long-term goals. This investment is critical in keeping employees on board. A survey from IBM found that employees are 12 times more likely to leave their jobs when they don’t feel like they can achieve their career goals.
Your frontline employees benefit from access to training programs and certifications that drive long-term career growth. Employees and managers can even incorporate these programs into their one-on-one meetings. For example, these opportunities help a manager better understand an employee’s goals and direct him or her to the appropriate resources. And with an online app that frontline workers can use from their personal device, such as a smartphone or tablet, managers can track employees’ progress and confirm the program’s completion.
You need to do more than increase wages to keep your frontline workers satisfied. Streamlined communication, flexible scheduling, and upward mobility can motivate these workers to remain with your organization when a higher-paying offer comes around. Ultimately, employees who feel supported and valued are more likely to remain productive team members long term; the right digital frontline solution can make supporting them easier, making it a win-win for all.
Steve Kramer is the CEO at Workjam.